, Gloucester, MA

September 2, 2013

Fishtown Local: Refreshing change on Eastern Point

Fishtown Local
Gordon Baird

---- — The birds are tweeting and the waves rush gently to shore.

It feels like a new day where we live. Never has a neighborhood changed so much in six months.

When the sound of a chainsaw buzzes through the adjoining forest, experienced longtime neighbors no longer signal to each other that something is up and take turns dashing into the woods to see who’s trees have been attacked now.

Have you ever have neighbors who did that? Stealthy removal of branches and whole trees that could expand or open a new view the moment your back is turned? They always blame it on the cutter — he misread the plot plan, or it was hanging over our border line (no it wasn’t) or no explanation at all, just denial.

Even the sound of lawnmowers in the distance used to summon several of us into the forest battle zone, but not any more. Now we know it’s just noise from harmless intentions and on their own property, not ours or our friends’.

We have these new neighbors who just moved in next door. They are quiet and friendly and enjoy the neighborhood, you can tell. But I’m sure they are wondering why everyone seems so grateful to them. Almost too grateful, too cheerful, it must seem. I mean all they did was buy the house.

But if they are greeted as the American liberators were greeted in France in `44, who could be surprised?

We all agree on one thing: the land feels different all around. Like land again, not borders and boundaries.

Not like a combat zone, in which walking your dog down the street could attract territorialists who claimed to make the case that your dogs weren’t allowed to be on their side of a private road, or on Eastern Point at all. They didn’t belong here and neither did you. Sheesh, what a load of malarkey and that began the moment they moved here almost ten long years ago.

But that was then, this is now. Neighbors are now speaking to each other again after almost a decade of division between the one side of the neighborhood (year-rounders) and the other (summeristas).

For a long time, the summer crowd would show up just in time to begin bossing everybody around and making lots of rules and signs that told everyone else what they could and couldn’t do — which was so silly because those bossy pants were only here three months a year.

I always wondered how they thought we could get along without them the other nine months without them to tell us how to live, where we could park, drive and frolic. The rest of the year, we didn’t seem to need their orders and got along just fine. When stuff went wrong in the off time, we just solved the problems ourselves and were here to live the results, with or without them.

Anyhoo, now the bossing around has scaled way back. All the expensive warning signs are still there, but they seem to command no one, and no one is listening. They are a testament to empty bossing around, as no one seems to be reading them either while getting along with each other better than we all have in years.

Now, our old departed neighbors have new neighbors in another town they can boss around. There may be new signs to erect and a new neighborhood to take over the management of — as surely these folks are as clueless as we were about living the favored and elite lifestyles demanded of us in our station.

But, whew, now that they are finally gone, we can get back to living our lives as just people.

How will we ever get along without them? So far, just fine . . .

Gordon Baird is a local actor and musician, co-founder of Musician magazine, and producer of “the Chicken Shack” community access television show.